Council cuts

Stop the cuts or we face collapse, council leaders warn

In the media News Whitehall

Council leaders from across the country have called for an emergency injection of cash to avoid a financial crisis caused by years of austerity cuts.

Almost 80 Labour council leaders have written to Communities Secretary James Brokenshire warning of a ‘catastrophic’ collapse if the cuts continue.

They are demanding that additional planned funding cuts of £1.3 billion due to be announced as part of next year’s financial settlement for councils are scrapped.

In their letter, they tell Brokenshire that ‘blindly pressing on’ with more cuts would be irresponsible as many local authorities are on the verge of collapse.

The leaders of some of the UK’s biggest cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, have signed the letter.

They warn Brokenshire that by 2020 councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 central government gave them in 2010.

The letter urges the minister to use this week’s settlement to end local government austerity and provide the cash to stave off a collapse of council services.

It adds: “Nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average.

“After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.

“At an absolute minimum, you must use the funding settlement to cancel the planned further cut of £1.3 billion to next year’s Revenue Support Grant.

“To blindly press on with further cuts at a time when local government is on the brink of collapse would be hugely irresponsible.”

A number of local authorities – many Conservative-controlled – have already warned the Government that they are facing bankruptcy.

They include Northamptonshire Council, which has been taken over by the Government after effectively running out of cash.

The Local Government Association, which represents 435 English and Welsh councils, says in England alone there will be an £5.8 billion funding shortfall by 2020.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the local authority funding settlement for 2019/20 would be announced shortly.

A spokesman said: “We have committed to providing councils with £90.7 billion over the next two years to help them meet the needs of their residents.

“In the budget we announced more than £1 billion in extra funding for local government to address pressures on their services.”

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